The road teams continued to control the MLB postseason as both Lone Star teams grabbed the early leads in the American League Division Series. The Texas Rangers got it started with a 5-3 win in Toronto yesterday afternoon and the Houston Astros finished it at night with a 5-2 victory at defending AL champ Kansas City. Here’s some thoughts on those games…
*As I watching the Rangers-Blue Jays game, something about David Price’s postseason history was gnawing at me. It seemed like it hadn’t been very good. But then I thought maybe I was just making too much of his getting knocked around by the Red Sox in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS. Then as the game ended, the graphic was posted—Price is 0-6 as a starter as the postseason.
This has to be one most underrated stats out there. It’s ironic, because Price’s playoff career got off to a great start on Tampa Bay’s 2008 AL pennant winner. Pitching in relief, he got an ALCS Game 2 win over the Red Sox. Then in Game 7 he got the biggest out of the series, retiring J.D. Drew with two outs and the bases loaded in a 3-1 game. But since then it’s been all downhill.
Price’s starts have been along the lines of yesterday. He hasn’t been lit up and his team had a chance to win, so perhaps that’s why it moves under the radar, while Clayton Kershaw gets the media heat for his radical meltdowns of the last two postseasons. But with Kershaw’s problems limited to the Cardinals, while Price has had issues with several teams, maybe it’s time to make the Toronto ace’s October performances more of the media focus.
*The Texas lineup remains really underrated and it was demonstrated yesterday. It was the 8-9 spots in the batting order that did the biggest damage, with Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor each going deep. They don’t have the big names and they didn’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated like Toronto’s hitters did, but this Ranger lineup is steady throughout.
*The quality of pitches by the Rangers, mainly starter Yovani Gallardo, was outstanding yesterday. They consistently kept offspeed pitches down and away. Toronto’s hitters had some good at-bats—you saw a lot of good takes on balls that just missed the strike zone. If the Ranger pitchers execute like this through the series, they’re going to win, but Jose Bautista’s loud home run on a pitch that got up shows there’s not much room for error.
*Moving over to the Houston-Kansas City game, I’m starting to rethink my view of Astro closer Luke Gregorson. I viewed him as a liability, at least by postseason standards and especially when compared to his Royal counterparts. I’ve now watched him close two playoff wins on the road and I’m impressed.
Not because he got the save—tell any average major league pitcher he just has to get three outs and he’ll probably do it. And I’m not altering my opinion based on two appearances. But there’s just a way he carries himself and his demeanor that inspires confidence. I’ve been rooting for the Astros thus far and after watching Gregorson throw just a couple pitches in each outing, I settle into a “we got this” mindset. We’ll see if that’s real, or just a state of mind.
*Colby Rasmus has been written off in both St. Louis and Toronto and he’s taking full advantage of his chance on the October stage. Another long home run to rightfield yesterday follows his big blast in Yankee Stadium in the wild-card game. He was considered a top prospect, but also hard to deal with. Right now he’s just hard for opposing pitchers to deal with.
We move into a Friday Foursome today, with the American League coming right back in the afternoon for their Game 2s, and the National League opening up tonight. Here’s the schedule:
Rangers-Blue Jays (12:45 PM ET, MLB)—Texas beat Toronto’s hired gun in David Price. Now the Jays have to return the favor against Cole Hamels.
Astros-Royals (3:30 PM ET, FS1)—Another hired gun, Johnny Cueto is all but pitching for the Royals season, as Dallas Kuechel is lying in wait back in Houston for Game 3.
Cubs-Cardinals (6:30 PM ET, TBS)—Jon Lester beat the Cardinals twice in the 2013 World Series for the Red Sox. Can he do it now for the Cubbies?
Mets-Dodgers (9:30 PM ET, TBS)—Kershaw looks to avoid following in Price’s footsteps with another October loss.